Published: Jan 15, 2023 08:00 AM
On Sunday, January 8, a mix of parishioners and interested local residents gathered in the crisp air around a pair of anvils in the parking lot of Newtown Congregational Church.
Standing inside the circle, carefully holding a piece of glowing orange metal was The Right Reverend James Curry, co-founder of Swords To Plowshares (S2P) Northeast, an organization focused on reducing gun violence in communities by transforming gun parts into garden tools.
Curry used tongs to gracefully place the smoldering metal onto an anvil, which he then hammered into the shape of a trowel. As the metal cooled, the head of the trowel began to solidify into shape.
This trowel was unlike the typical trowels seen in local garden stores, however: it was forged from an old gun barrel.
It is “forged with love,” remarked Curry, “the power of love transforming weapons into useful garden tools.”
The crowd nodded and clapped, and within a few minutes, attendees began donning gloves and glasses to stafely start working on creating the garden tools themselves.
He then produced a long metal barrel from the trailer — another old barrel, this one still in its original shape.
Gingerly placing the barrel into the forge, Curry said forge was near 2,000 degrees. For reference, that’s about the temperature of molten lava.
Pulling out the near-molten metal, Curry placed it onto an anvil, next to an eager young girl holding a hammer.
Assuring attendees that molten metal cools quickly, especially with the colder temperatures outside, he helped a young volunteer hammer down the metal. Onlookers watched as the cavity in the barrel began to close.
Curry exclaimed, “This is the power of love! This weapon won’t fire and kill any more. Instead, it will serve as a tool for the seeds we plant in the ground.” The young girl smiled, and the audience members applauded.
After some more demonstrations, and a workshop where audience members could their own forged heart-shaped necklaces, Curry invited a few more community members to come up. This included Real Food Share Founder CT, The Victory Garden at Fairfield Hills, and Newtown Parks & Recreation.
Representatives from the three groups offered remarks about local gardening efforts. Cindy Clark encouraged members of the Newtown community to consider planting a row in the Victory Garden, and Parks & Rec Director Amy Mangold shared the success story of the fruit trail at Fairfield Hills. The fruit trail was established a few years ago by Mangold’s son Andrew.
Curry then presented each with a two-pronged weeding hoe made out of guns that were from buybacks in Hartford, New Haven, Hamden, and Worcester, Mass.
The workshops and demonstrations continued through the early afternoon, leaving all attendees with new insights into how communities can be transformed with the power of kindness, gardening, and a little bit of persistence — transforming weapons into garden tools.
For more information, visit Swords to Plowshares Northeast at s2pnortheast.org.
Swords To Plowshares Northeast Co-Founder Jim Curry hammers a gun barrel that was heated to a near molten temperature so it can be fashioned into a useful gardening tool during a January 8 demonstration at the Newtown Congregational Church. The nonprofit helped teach about two dozen attendees at the event how to convert old firearms to gardening tools for the Newtown community Victory Garden and Real Food CT gardens following an earlier celebratory service at the local church. —Bee Photo, Hoffert
Betsy Gaier takes a swing at a piece of a former firearm being converted to a gardening utensil during a Swords to Plowshares Northeast program at Newtown Congregational Church on January 8 while an unidentified organization volunteer steadies a chisel. The nonprofit organization helped teach about two dozen attendees how they convert old firearms to useful tools following an earlier celebratory service at the local church. —Bee Photo, Hoffert
Swords To Plowshares Northeast Co-Founder Jim Curry points to a gun barrel he was about to heat to a near molten temperature before beginning to hammer the more pliable metal into part of a useful gardening tool. —Bee Photo, Hoffert
Swords To Plowshares Northeast invited representatives of local garden efforts to speak about their work before being presented with tools crafted by S2P volunteers. From left is David Haze and Sean Fitzpatrick from Real Food CT, S2P Northeast Co-Founder Jim Curry, Newtown Victory Garden volunteer Cynthia Clark, Newtown Congregational Church Pastor Matt Crebbin, and Newtown Parks & Rec Director Amy Mangold. —Bee Photo, Hoffert
These garden tools were created from pieces of firearms by Swords to Plowshares Northeast participants. —Bee Photo, Hoffert
Using a drill press, Swords To Plowshares Northeast Co-Founder Jim Curry moves through a demonstration at Newtown Congregational Church last Sunday afternoon. A few hours earlier, the Right Reverend James Curry was the guest pastor for the church’s worship service. A retired Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, Curry delivered a sermon on “Neither Shall We Learn Violence Anymore.” —Bee Photo, Hoffert